It seems like every channel or media entity on the planet is getting into the original content business these days. Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime have led the charge when it comes to non-traditional media giving the networks some serious competition, and now Microsoft has announced an intriguing upcoming project for their Xbox 360 and Xbox One consoles. They’ll be producing a documentary series which will, among other things, delve into the notorious story about a New Mexico landfill that allegedly contains millions of unsold copies of Atari’s infamously horrible E.T. video game from 1982.
We first reported on planned excavation of the New Mexico landfill back in July. At the time, a Canadian production company called Fuel Industries had received permission from the Alamagordo, New Mexico City Commission to to excavate the landfill to see if they can uncover all those E.T. video cartridges, or possibly confirm that the whole thing is nothing more than an urban legend.
In the months since, Fuel Entertainment reached a deal with Microsoft about the possibility of airing the documentary on their Xbox Live platform. Screenwriter Zak Penn (X-Men: The Last Stand, The Incredible Hulk) will direct, and documentarians Simon Chinn and his cousin Jonathan Chinn are also producing the show, via their Lightbox media company. Chinn is a two-time Oscar winner: in 2009 for Man on Wire and in 2013 for Searching for Sugar Man. Jonathan won an Emmy in 2001 for the reality program American High. In a press release, Simon said:
Our collaboration with Xbox offers an unparalleled opportunity to make a unique series of films around the extraordinary events and characters that have given rise to the digital age.
Our goal is to produce a series of compelling and entertaining docs which will deploy all the narrative techniques of Simon’s and my previous work. It’s particularly exciting to be partnering with filmmakers like Zak Penn who come to this process from other filmmaking disciplines and who will bring their own distinctive creative vision to this.
Microsoft is looking to acquire even more original content for their Xbox Live service, but the jewel in that crown so far is the series they have in the works based on the bestselling video game series Halo. Microsoft had previously produced Halo: Forward Unto Dawn, a five-part web series that was released prior to the arrival of the fourth Halo game in 2012. The new Halo series is being produced by Steven friggin’ Spielberg himself. You can see the original announcement video below.
There’s no word yet when we’ll be able to see the E.T. documentary or the Halo series, but we’ll keep you posted when there’s more to know.